Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Myths & facts about the vax - debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths

Image of Myths and facts about the vax. The COVID-19 vaccine has been mandated across the Department of Defense and despite its demonstrated effectiveness and safety, a host of myths have left some Airmen and Guardians hesitant to receive it. While social media posts and some news outlets may make it harder to keep up with what is fact or fiction, the science is clear … approved COVID-19 vaccines work (Photo by: U.S. Air Force).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

The COVID-19 vaccine has been mandated across the Department of Defense and despite its demonstrated effectiveness and safety, a host of myths have left some Airmen and Guardians hesitant to receive it. While social media posts and some news outlets may make it harder to keep up with what is fact or fiction, the science is clear...approved COVID-19 vaccines work.

Here is a breakdown of the most common myths surrounding COVID-19 vaccines, and the facts behind each myth:

 

Myth: COMIRNATY is not the same as the PFIZER-BIONTECH COVID-19 vaccine.

Truth: It is common for vaccine names to change after receiving full Food and Drug Administration approval for branding purposes. COMIRNATY and Pfizer-BioNTech are biologically and chemically the same vaccine. The FDA approved Pfizer-BioNTech for licensing and branding as COMIRNATY August 23 for people 16 years and older. Critically, the Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine continues and covers the 12-15 year old population.

In accordance with FDA guidance, COMIRNATY has the same formulation and can be used interchangeably with the FDA-authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Providers can use doses distributed under the EUA, to administer the vaccination series as if the doses were the licensed vaccine.

Myth: There were no people of color involved or represented in the research or development of the vaccine.

Truth: COVID-19 has taken a heavy and disproportionate toll on people of color, particularly Black adults. Historically, people of color have been underrepresented in clinical trials. Therefore, ensuring racial and ethnic diversity in clinical trials for development of COVID-19 vaccines has been particularly important. Diversity within clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine also ensures safety and effectiveness across populations. Findings show that Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine safety and efficacy were similar for people of color and white participants.

The FDA offered nonbinding recommendations that strongly encouraged the enrollment of populations most affected by COVID-19, specifically racial and ethnic minorities. Both Pfizer and Moderna worked to ensure that people of color were included in their trials, with Moderna even slowing down enrollment to enroll more racial and ethnic minorities. There have also been efforts on the community side. Historically Black colleges and universities participated in COVID-19 vaccine trials and encouraged participation among their communities. The purposeful encouragement to increase racial and ethnic groups in these trials have achieved greater diversity than many previous trials for other drugs.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine can cause problems with breast tissue and lead to breast cancer.

Truth: There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause problems with breast tissue or would lead to breast cancer. The mRNA vaccines are processed by your body near the injection site and activate immune system cells that then travel through the lymph system to nearby lymph nodes. In this manner, an individual may experience swelling under the arm where the vaccine was administered due to swelling of the lymph node. The vaccines are not affecting hormone levels, nor are they traveling throughout the body or affecting other body organs, such as breast tissue. Swollen lymph nodes can show up in a mammogram even if women can't feel them. Hence, the Society of Breast Imaging recommends women delay any routine mammography scheduled within four weeks after their most recent COVID-19 vaccination.

Military health personnel filling a syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine
Air Force Master Sgt. Luca Farkas, 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron aeromedical technician, fills a syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania in Jan. 2021 (Photo by: Joshua Seybert, 911th Airlift Wing). 

Myth: If I take COMIRNATY while breastfeeding, my baby will be infected with COVID-19.

Truth: COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause infection in anyone. Vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who are breastfeeding. Additionally, breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breast milk, which could help protect their babies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine recommend that lactating women receive the vaccine and that breastfeeding should not be stopped around the period of vaccination.

Myth: COVID-19 causes infertility.

Truth: There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems in women or men. The mRNA vaccines are processed by your body near the injection site and activate immune system cells that then travel through the lymph system to nearby lymph nodes. In this manner, they are not affecting hormone levels, nor are they traveling throughout the body or affecting other body organs.

Myth: The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System proves that COVID-19 vaccination causes too many side effects and deaths.

Truth: VAERS data alone cannot determine if an adverse event was caused by a COVID-19 vaccination. Anyone can report individual events to VAERS, even if it is not clear whether a vaccine caused the problem. These events are studied by vaccine safety experts who track for trends, then validate significant adverse concerns. Recently, the number of deaths reported in VAERS has been misinterpreted and misreported as if this number means deaths were proven to be caused by COVID-19 vaccination.

Myth: COMIRNATY vaccine contains fetal cells.

Truth: None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain fetal cells. Specifically, COMIRNATY and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines did not use a fetal cell line to manufacture their vaccine. However, a fetal cell line was used in early research efficacy of these vaccines.

The use of these fetal cell lines in research and/or production of vaccines and medication is not new. Some over-the-counter medications for which a historic fetal cell line was utilized in research and/or production and manufacturing include: Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Aspirin, Tums, Senokot, Motrin, Maalox, Ex-Lax, Benadryl, Sudafed, Preparation H, Claritin, and others.

Military personnel receiving the COVID-19 vaccine
Air Force Master Sgt. Tiffany Sneeze, from the 165th Airlift Wing, administers the COVID-19 vaccination to an Airman in June 2021 on Dobbins Air Force Base, Georgia (Photo by: Army Capt. Amanda Russell, Georgia National Guard).

Myth: Researchers rushed the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, so its effectiveness and safety cannot be trusted.

Truth: The COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. have gone through the typical FDA approval process - no steps were skipped - but some steps were conducted on an overlapping schedule to gather data faster.

First, the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were created with a method that has been in development for years, so the companies could start the vaccine development process early in the pandemic. Second, vaccine projects received large resources. Governments invested in research and/or paid for vaccines in advance, which enabled a faster approach. Third, some types of COVID-19 vaccines were created using messenger RNA (mRNA), which allows a faster approach than the traditional way that vaccines are made. Fourth, the capabilities of social media reaching numerous people enabled companies to find and engage study volunteers at a faster than typical pace. Finally, COVID-19 is so contagious and widespread, therefore it did not take long to see if the vaccine worked for the study volunteers who were vaccinated.

Myth: If I get the COVID-19 vaccine, it will make me sick with COVID-19.

Truth: You cannot get COVID-19 disease from the COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are signs that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. If you do not have side effects, that does not mean your body's immune system is not responding.

Myth: COVID-19 vaccines shed or release their components and are harmful.

Truth: Vaccine shedding is the term used to describe the release or discharge of any of the vaccine components in or outside of the body. Vaccine shedding can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened live version of the virus. None of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. contain a live virus.

Myth: COVID-19 vaccine will alter my DNA.

Truth: COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with DNA in any way. Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions (genetic material) to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA resides.

Myth: Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine will make me magnetic.

Truth: All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals and will not make anyone magnetic. None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain eggs, gelatin, latex, or preservatives.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine contains microchips.

Truth: COVID-19 vaccines do not contain manufactured electronic or microchips. Vaccines are developed to fight against disease and are not administered to track your movement. Vaccines work by stimulating your immune system to produce antibodies. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease, without having to get the disease first.

 

Airmen, Guardians and family members who still have questions and concerns are encouraged to reach out to their primary care provider. Additional information, including the DOD mandate, can be found here.

You also may be interested in...

Telemedicine Privilege by Proxy Expands Access to MHS Care

Article
8/10/2022
Infographic featuring Lt Col Legault

MHS has Telemedicine Privilege by Proxy: A fast, efficient process that enables providers to file one application and get permission to virtually treat patients anywhere in the MHS.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Telehealth Program

Learn the Most Recent Age Requirements for COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters

Article
8/10/2022
A man fist bumps a child.

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to get your vaccines and booster shots.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Vax Fax: Should I Get A COVID-19 Booster Shot?

Infographic
7/1/2022
Vax Fax: Should I Get A COVID-19 Booster Shot?

Some people may be eligible for a second booster shot. Share this graphic to communicate who may be eligible.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Vax Facts

Mask Guidance

Infographic
7/1/2022
Mask Guidance

Mask Guidance for Department of Defense Facilities.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Prevent COVID-19

Anyone Can Get Vaccinated

Infographic
7/1/2022
Anyone Can Get Vaccinated

Now that anyone 6 months and older is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, share this graphic to encourage your community to get vaccinated.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines

Vax Facts: Should I Get a Second COVID-19 Booster Shot?

Infographic
7/1/2022
Vax Facts: Should I Get a Second COVID-19 Booster Shot?

This graphic outlines eligibility requirements for a first booster shot.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Vax Facts

DHA- IPM 20-004: Department of Defense (DOD) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Implementation

Policy

Establishes the Defense Health Agency’s procedures to implement instructions, assign responsibilities, and prescribe procedures for the DHA’s implementation of the DOD’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program.

Future of Nursing: Telehealth, More Innovation and Maybe Some Robots

Article
5/13/2022
Second Lt. Nina Hoskins, 81st Surgical Operations Squadron operating room nurse, briefs Col. Debra Lovette, 81st Training Wing commander, and other base leadership on robotics surgery capabilities inside the robotics surgery clinic at the Keesler Medical Center June 16, 2017. (Photo: Kemberly Groue, U.S. Air Force)

The future of nursing is here due in part to changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

How One Military Nurse Persevered Through the COVID-19 Response

Article
5/5/2022
Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling, a medical-surgical nurse at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Family Health Clinic, Texas, was deployed to support the COVID-19 response in Afghanistan in 2021. They administered vaccinations to U.S. citizens, service members, and foreign military members as well as supported the preparation to withdraw from the country. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling)

Nurses across the Military Health System have played a vital role in providing routine patient care and meeting the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Nursing in the Military Health System

‘I Love the Intensity’ – One Nurse Recalls Three COVID-19 Deployments

Article
5/5/2022
In 2020, Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra, an ICU nurse at the 633rd Medical Group, on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, was deployed to a North Dakota hospital to support a FEMA COVID-19 mission. In the photo, she trains on equipment used for critical patients in a North Dakota ICU. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra)

Nurses are unique, they follow a calling to care for others. Military nurses do that as well as serve their nation. For Nurses Week, the MHS highlights some of their own.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

Pandemic Spotlights the Vital Role of Military Lab Workers

Article
5/2/2022
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Solomon, 18th Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of microbiology, unloads blood samples from a centrifuge at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 31, 2019. (Photo: Tech. Sgt. Matthew B. Fredericks, U.S. Air Force)

MHS clinical labs produce results.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

Helping Your Child to Cope with Grief and Losses Related to COVID-19

Article
4/28/2022
Shirley Lanham Elementary School students perform Taiko drumming during a Month of the Military Child celebration aboard the Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, April 6, 2022. (Photo: Petty Officer 2nd Class Ange-Olivier Clement, Naval Air Facility Atsugi)

Many military children have lost loved ones to COVID-19. How parents can help with the grief.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

How to Help Military Children Reconnect After Two Years of the Pandemic

Article
4/25/2022
Airman 1st Class Rocio Romo, Space Launch Delta 30 public affairs specialist, and her son pose for a photo at Cocheo Park on Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, March 25, 2022. During the month of April, we celebrate Month of the Military Child to highlight the sacrifices military children make on the home front while their parents serve the United States. (Photo: Airman Kadielle Shaw, Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs)

How parents can help children stressed by more than two years of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Main Graphic

Infographic
4/21/2022
COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Main Graphic

If your military hospital or clinic offers these antiviral treatments as part of the COVID-19 Test to Treat Initiative, use these graphics to promote your services to your beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Treatment

COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Graphic 2

Infographic
4/21/2022
COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Graphic 2

If your military hospital or clinic offers these antiviral treatments as part of the COVID-19 Test to Treat Initiative, use these graphics to promote your services to your beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Treatment
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 34
Refine your search
Last Updated: September 29, 2021

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.